Cubs continue murderous schedule
On Friday at 7:00 p.m. Loyola will host its first home game of the season on Smith Field. Following what by all accounts was a disastrous defeat at the hands of Santa Margarita last Friday, the Cubs jump from the proverbial frying pan into the fire, as the number one team from San Diego County, St. Augustine, will be looking to throw haymakers at a team it has not beaten since the schools’ inaugural football contest in 1928, some 88 years ago. Below is a preview of Friday’s game and a look back at the series that was renewed in 2014 after a 54-year hiatus. Suffice to say, Loyola will have its hands full against a squad that many believe is superior to the Santa Margarita team that inflicted the worst regular season defeat on the Cubs since 2010.
ST. AUGUSTINE SAINTS
Saints rank among state’s best
A look at the Saints
How’s this for a four-season record heading into the 2016 campaign? CIF San Diego Section Open Division finalists in 2015, 2014 CIF San Diego Section Division I champions, 2013 CIF San Diego Section Div. II champs, 2012 CIF San Diego Section Div. IV finalists. Head coach Richard Sanchez not only has led St. Augustine into the highest echelon of San Diego high school football, but he has also established Saints football as among the best in California as evidenced by a number 12 CalPreps preseason state ranking.
Sanchez brings a very talented group to Los Angeles for the third meeting between St. Augustine and Loyola in as many seasons. Junior defensive back Isaac Taylor-Stuart (6-2, 185) may be the Saints’ best athlete. He already has offers from such collegiate powers as Notre Dame, Alabama, UCLA and USC. Senior DB Tariq Thompson (5-11,190), a San Diego State commit, excels as a receiver as well. The player who operates St. Augustine’s offense at peak efficiency is senior quarterback Rodney Thompson (6-2, 190). He threw for 1,725 yards and 24 touchdowns last season at a 63% completion clip. Showing his multi-dimensional athletic talent, Thompson rushed for 579 yards, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Pacing a tough defensive unit, junior linebacker Andrew Alves (6-2, 240) is the real deal. Alves had 15 sacks last fall and recorded 40 tackles as a freshman on the varsity. Those four players were each named to the All-San Diego Section preseason teams by CalHi Sports.
The Saints offensive line, as usual, is big and powerful. Several players in the trenches tip the scales at over 300 pounds. Defensively, St. Augustine is equally adept against the run and pass. Do not be surprised if the Saints are once again playing for the Open Division championship come December.
While St. Augustine lost four-year starting running back Elijah Preston (2,244 rushing yards last season), the second leading runner in CIF San Diego Section annals, to graduation, the Saints’ offense is still potent and will try to get out of the gates early with a balanced attack. Loyola may try to establish its running game early, enabling it to take some play action shots downfield against one of the better defensive backfields the Cubs will face this fall. This game could end up being decided by which team makes bigger plays on special teams.
The Cubs and Saints renewed a rivalry in 2014 that began 89 years ago. Loyola won the 2014 contest, 42-35, in the first home game played on campus since 1949. Last fall the Cubs trekked to San Diego Mesa College where Loyola held on for a 23-20 victory after the Saints scored three times late in the final quarter.
Loyola and St. Augustine first played in 1928, with the Saints recording a 25-0 shutout of coach Larry Devlin’s Cubs. The 1928 Loyola team’s lone loss was to St. Augustine. The Cubs overall record in ‘28 was 7-1-2. In each of the ensuing eight contests Loyola has defeated its Augustinian rival, which is located near Balboa Park in San Diego. Entering tonight’s contest, the Jesuit school in Los Angeles holds the bragging rights with an 8-1 series lead.
In 1945, head coach Bill Sargent’s Cubs shut out the Saints 26-0. The ‘45 Loyola team finished the campaign with a 7-1-1 record, which included an impressive 27-13 victory over state power Bakersfield. St. Augustine forfeited the 1946 game for reasons unknown. Bill Sargent’s ’46 Loyola squad, led by CIF Large Schools Player-of-the-Year Al Pollard, dubbed by the Los Angeles sporting press as the Loyola Express, completed the season with a 10-1 record and made it to the school’s first CIF Large Schools championship game, before bowing, 7-6, to Alhambra. It was Sargent’s last year as Loyola’s head coach. His four-year record was an impressive 25-5-2 (81%). In 1947, first-year head coach Jack Bouchard’s Loyola squad downed St. Augustine 27-6 in game four. In his second year at the helm of Cub Football in 1948, coach Bouchard guided his Cub team to a 27-18 win over the Saints. Loyola finished the ’48 campaign with an 8-1 record. The Cubs won the 1949 contest 35-0, and in 1950 Loyola’s CIF Large Schools semifinalist club de-canonized the Saints, 25-13, in the fifth contest of the season. Bouchard’s overall record in his six years as the Cub head man was 39-13-2 (74%).
There is a significant connection between Loyola and St. Augustine. Its president, Ed Hearn, was a well-respected and beloved football coach, teacher and administrator at Loyola from 1971 through 1991, before he moved on to take over the job as principal at Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield and later at Brophy College Preparatory, a Jesuit secondary school in Phoenix. Coach Hearn made an indelible mark on Cub Football. Among many of his contributions, he began the Loyola Samurai weightlifting program in 1981.
In eight of the nine years Loyola has played St. Augustine, the Cubs finished with a winning record. So win or lose tonight, the contest with the Saints augurs well for Loyola, whose overall record in the nine seasons the Cubs have played the Saints is 65-19 (78%).